rashbre central: 2020

Monday 14 December 2020

Hancock's flights of misdirection #Covid #Covid-G #Covid-GR #COVID-GH #COVID-V #COVID-S #COVID-L #COVID-O


If I hadn't been writing my recent novel, I doubt whether I would have stumbled across this recent set of science. It is from Daniele Mercatelli and Federico M. Giorgi and was written up in Daily Science last August. 

They looked at a wide bunch of COVID cases and sequenced the genomes. And guess what? They found seven variants of COVID. There was the original Wuhan one and six others, including the three G clades with are referred to as G, GH and GR and create around 75% of the COVID infections in Europe. Check out the graphs below to see the distribution of the COVID variants. Now Matt Hancock has chosen today to release information about 'a new COVID Type' which he implies is ravaging the south east of England. He claims it has just been found by UK's world leading scientists. 

I can't help thinking he is telling fibs to get off detention. Why not tell everyone about the various types - back up his findings with some science? Because the variants have all been around since the first UK lockdown. Some of the variations are unable to create the spike proteins. The Wuhan variant isn't even the main one in play now. It all changed in February.

Analysis of 48,635 SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences. Think of it like a mag tape reader reading blocks of data, delimited with tape headers, block headers and then chains of actual data. Then squirt some oil and iron filings into the heads to create some distortions.

A load of fairly predictable transcription errors occur. Sometimes a block gets skipped or accidentally misread. Then in the world of Messenger RNA (like a mag tape) the genomic sequence can be messed up. 

Genomes have 4 neucleotides: U C A G. It only takes a few Cs to be converted to Ts (Terminators) or As to Gs and it all starts to look different. Fortunately there are only a few common mistranslates, as follows:

or, graphically, by region.
In particular, clade G, prevalent in Europe, carries a D614G mutation in the Spike protein, which is responsible for the initial interaction of the virus with the host human cell.  Other interesting variants are clade V (variant of the ORF3a coding protein NS3-G251), and clade S (variant ORF8-L84S)
The G clade has three variants G, GH, GR and that makes up 75% of the population of the virus. (See the Europe chart at top)
Within a 10% variation, there is a massive prevalence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) over short insertion/deletion events (indels) worldwide and in every continent. 
Ignoring the crud, you get SNP and SNP_silent as by far the biggest variable affecting the chain and creating the majority of the common variations. So look, Matt, even within the current pandemic, your NHS is handling the seven variants, but with G as the strident one and ironically the Case Zero 'S' type almost at zero now. Mid Feb was when the two extra Gs split out GH and GR. GR is now the largest and G the second, In Europe, all the Gs account for around 75-80% of cases. Then L and V.

So I'm worried now that you are running spin. Announcing the 'new variant' on the same day as London Tier 3 to run some deflection? My questions are whether you know about this stuff and are doing it deliberately? - not good - or whether you don't know or understand this stuff and are doing it unwittingly? - not good also. There was something in the manifesto about taking back control. I'm not convinced.

Sunday 13 December 2020

Robber Baron alert

We all forgot that Boris doesn’t function off-shore. Someone else compared him to one of those supermarket trollies along Cromwell Road which refuse to go past the boundary of  Waitrose. But I suppose the supermarket trollies have some utility value.


Boris tried his usual gimmicks. Attempting to get around the chief negotiator with sly off-camera phone calls didn’t work. Neither does it help to slag off the head of another major EU stakeholder. 


Then he brings back a selection of half-truths about the real negotiated position, ably supported by the Daily Mail which is talking about the UK having to crawl over broken glass. Pah. A Bojo invention if ever I heard one. Oh yes, and don’t get me started on the gun-boats.


I’m reminded of the equally underwhelming David Davis negotiation, when he could not be bothered to turn up for the first 18 months. It was as if he had been let into the secret that all the smart Tories would just short everything to make a lot of money.


Let’s see: £4.6 billion of aggregate short positions on a no deal Brexit, taken out by hedge funds that bankrolled Johnson’s leadership campaign. Maybe £8.3 billion of aggregate shorts taken by the Vote Leave campaign representatives.  


I know, maybe maxing the shorts at £12 billion doesn’t sound a lot, compared with the amount that Boris has been shelling out in all directions recently, but the profits from a UK pound collapse go into individual oily pockets rather than to State initiatives. 


It is somewhat reminiscent of the build-up to the collapse of the Russian state a few years ago, when robber barons were able to buy banks, lend themselves money and sell off the state at knock-down prices. I wrote about it in Play On, Christina Nott.


And Boris is being economical with the truth, too. The current EU offer to the UK is a deal in which if we align, we get full access. Then, if in future, we diverge they limit access or put up tariffs on the areas of variance. Maybe its his last-minute salvation move?


But it would be too simple to go for that, when No deal and all that fat cat profit-taking is the other option. 


Johnson really is useless and hand-wave histrionics across a fish supper with Ursula don’t show off his Etonian manners in a good light. He is simply out-classed and out-manoeuvred. So what if Johnson negotiated in bad faith throughout? Rees-Mogg and the Understains from the ERG had told him that No Deal was the target outcome. I’ve not checked the new version of the 600-pager, but I have a big suspicion that it doesn’t look much different from the one that Theresa May produced. None of the Cabinet have spoken up though. It shows the reach of his tidy little Whatsapp group, whipped by the Quad.


The devastation created from a no-deal exit will spray out across the entire country. We will all be punished, through an economic downturn. Struggling areas will be hit the worst. Ex red-wall communities will be levelled down. 

 But what about sovereignty? The ability to make our own decisions. It’s another lie. We had so much influence from the inside of the EU that we could make our sovereign decisions count. Except when that annoying frog-eyed man tried to sabotage everything.


Johnson keeps doing TV straight to camera with an eye for the History Books in 20 years time. It should all be seen for what it is, the posturing of Mr ‘Oven-Ready’ the Liar, unable to handle statecraft on behalf of a nation. 

Friday 11 December 2020

The Australia Effect

When not digging a hole for himelf, Boris has told everyone that his new (not a No) Deal - will be like Australia. I think he probably means it will be like a World Trade Organisation Tarrif-based arrangement. 

We can expect the oelaginous Mr Gove to spread treacle over that soon in one of his clear explanations. 

 Boris is trying now to organise a hole through the earth to provide a short cut for the trading route. I decided to take a peek at Australian Trade with the UK. I was going to compare it with the EU trade. But I decided not to bother after I'd looked at the first couple of charts. Here's Australia imports from the UK
And here's Australia exports to the UK
I decided to compare it with firstly France
Alone, the Australian figures were one-third of the French ones, but it is not so obvious on the de-origined graphs. So, I thought I'd build my own. I decided to do UK exports to Australia, France and Germany. Just to see what it looked like.
It needs to be enlarged to see the detail. Suffice to say that Australia is Blue and the other two countries are much longer lines. 

Maybe the hustler has forgotten to follow the science on his last (non) decision? Here's Australia as a line against France and Germany. That's 2 of the 27 EY countries.
Face palm unbelievable.

Thursday 10 December 2020

boris unspooled.

The final stages of Boris are unspooling today. 

He's done what we all expected. Been such a buffon that he frittered away the entire negotiating time to leave Britain with a Jacob Rees-Mogg-friendly No Deal.
who's laughing now?  

During the great fire of London, some of the wealthy had time to bury their wine in pits. Samual Pepys even buried his parmesan cheese. The ERG crowd will have secured their futures, some of which will be off-shore.

Everyone was expecting this no deal situation so it has been baked into the FTSE and FX numbers for months. Even a deal now will really be a lightly flambéed no deal.

It's about the only part of the 'easy-peasy' deal that could be considered oven-ready. 

I'll be interested to see how the Pomps bluster their way through explanations over the next few weeks and which of the inappropriate idiots will start to position themselves to boot hapless Boris out. 

 Usually in Project Management there are three dimensions from which you can have two but may have to sacrifice the third: for example Scope/Time/Cost. 

The clown has managed to have three things but been unable to achieve any of them. Sovreignty/level playing field/fishing waters. Not only that, he has mixed up the dimensions in a 'Power Station and the Bike Sheds' manner. 


Wednesday 9 December 2020


Arriving in his comfortable EU-manufactured Merc, Bozza eats a long oven-ready fish supper. Not sure which EU country caught the turbot though.
Then the photo-op. 

Instead of BoJo waving his hands around we see Ursula's gesture on the front pages.

 'Je suis désolé'

or not.


Sunday 6 December 2020


It's a whole week since the Govester gave stuttery oozy conflicting advice about whether Scotch Eggs were a substantial meal on the telly. 

Three interviews and two completely oppositional positions. 

I can remember when Scotch Eggs were a part of the London scene. Extended after hours drinking was available from some hostelries if they had a food and drink licence. 

These were not the finest of clubs, let me add. 

The condition for ordering, say, a beer was that you had to have some food. Roll on the Scotch Egg. Not a whole one; maybe a quarter egg? Insubstantial, but it served its purpose. 

And the stats? 260 kcalories for a whole Scotch Egg (thats slightly more than a Mars Bar) - listed on the main courses menu, compared with 774 kcalories for a pasty. or 1,440 kcalories for pasty with chips. 

West Country substantial.

We should ask Gove and the other blusterer about waffle. 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Novel Chapter Heading Inspiration from PHP8

Big Sur wasn't the only system change over the last few days. The Ed Adams website also received notification of changes to PHP (Personal Home Page). I fastidiously implemented the latest version for several of my sites, but then had to revert to the prior version, when I discovered that a few of my sites simply disappeared. 

So I'm running on PHP7.4, instead of the very latest - released today - PHP 8.0.

However, I looked through the system descriptions for the PHP 8 changes, I realise that they will make some cracking chapter headings in my next novel. It has a working title of "Corrupt" and a plot-line that, I think, is almost imaginable, especially with some of the latest Gove denials about passporting.

Anyway - Inheritance with Private Methods - has got to be a chapter about some ways that my fictitious characters pass on their property to others. 

Then there is Constructor Property Promotion. This can be a chapter featuring dodgy property deals, agreed over a handshake and a wink. Then there is Allowing Class on Objects. This can be transformed into a riff about the wrong school tie, or similar. Phew, I'll leave this one to the imagination for the moment, but it could make a whip-smart chapter title about Belgravia townhouses.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Big Sur

I updated my Macbook Pro to Big Sur to see what would happen. Big Sur is a lovely stretch of coastline on California 1 and I love a drive along it. What could possibly go wrong with a Big Sur update? I was chilled enough to think that if a few Apps fell over, then it wasn't my main machine and I could survive.

Little did I know that one of the Apps that didn't work on reboot was Mail.

I tried everything, even reading the user forums. Nothing useful anywhere, although others were asking the same question. I decided it was time to hold down the power button and do another reboot.

Pling. Everything started to work. It wasn't like a typical Apple update though. I had the Windows experience of a few anxiety-inducing moments where I wondered if I'd somehow totalled the machine and was already mentally preparing for another 12 Gb download to put it right. 

Then there are the small vendors jiggling money buckets outside the Citadel. Several of my helpful utilities still needed updates and the fees for those varied from £6.50 to £22.00. Now I need to work out what has changed in the various revised user interfaces.

I have received warnings from a couple of big software vendors too, so I'm holding fire on an update to my main machine, in case there is something that I depend upon. 

Fortunately, the Microsoft stuff and the bits of Adobe that I've tried seem to be working. Same with Evernote, Kindle, and Sonos, so I can still dial-up music from the laptop in the lounge.
Notification has been improved which hopefully means I don't need to remember option-click for DND (Do Not Disturb) during Zoom meetings.

I'm used to updates looking so similar that it takes a while to realise there are extra capabilities, but this one is different. There are changes to the fonts and most of the icons look different. I can understand a designer wanting all of the icons to look similar, but it's like with a car, some of the control surfaces warrant different treatments so that they are easy to find. 

Its become more of a problem with the UX on the iPhone as different vendors have followed the rules and the result is somewhat bland. I understand that it is pleasing to remove the greys and round off the corners of everything, but let's not do so at the expense of usability. Sometimes grey is helpful because it tells you that the screen area isn't important.

Notification Centre is different too, surfacing the long-departed widgets from Macs many releases ago. They seem to have a place to go now, so I guess we'll soon all have stock tickers and photo popups in our eye-line. I suppose that Facebook and every other clickaholic App will also bring forward new little jittery distractors to keep us from the main task. They will probably try to monetise the screenspace, I'm sure.

It is increasingly noticeable how much of the iOS design is being brought into the Mac, but I hope it is not at the expense of usability. Sometimes it does work better now, like the surfacing of the most used System Preferences into the Notification Control Center. So Battery life has better reporting. Although I'm not sure if it gives the theoretical maximum of a battery like coconutbattery does. That's the handy utility where we can see when a battery is starting to fail and instead of recharging to 7200Mah it only goes up to a max of say 4200Mah. (ie it can only charge to 60% of its new value) Somehow I can't see manufacturers wanting that to be too well known.

But, I suppose Big Sur is a tidy-up and holding pattern to get everything across from intel to M1 silicon. That'll be interesting.

Thursday 19 November 2020

I wish I was a spaceman.

There's that bit in movies where we can finally see that one of the principal characters has lost it. 

They try to make him more interesting by introducing a dog, or sometimes a life event - like a new girlfriend/baby/move of location. Boris had the dog, girlfriend, house move, baby, some time ago, which meant the only way he could go was loopy. 

This time its the Star Fleet gambit. Throw money north of the border and hope some of it sticks. We've already got a perfectly good space station down here in the South West. Newquay actually.  
Spaceport Cornwall. 

A snip at £200 million, compared with £16 billion defence spending increase announced by Boris with a procurement process that “has continued to squander billions of pounds, enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists”, as Mr Cummings blogged last March. 

 It's like the coolest revenge of Mekon Cummings, after he has already left the building. 

That cardboard box was empty. He used it to bring in a few playbooks to leave around the place by way of sabotage. You know the bit, where he's planted the time-bomb and no-one knows how to cut the wires. I'm sticking with 6th January.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Nanowrimo revisited - The Triangle is now a podcast too!

Well, my original novel from Nanowrimo all those years ago is still going strong, with 376 downloads in the last month! 

I decided to forgo the pleasures of the Nanowrimo experience this year, as I've been working my way through several books during lockdown including Archangel, Raven, Raven's Card, Edge, Edge, Blue and Edge, Red - Oh and Play on, Christina Nott. 

They are all on my Ed Adams Amazon author page! 

 I was recently interviewed about The Triangle for radio, but a particular question stumbled me. I was asked whether I'd made it into an audiobook and all I could do was splutter about the cost of doing so. 

My own estimates come in at around £2k to get it spoken. 

 Undeterred, I decided to convert it to a podcast myself, which is now up on Apple, Spotify, Alexa, Tune-up and the other usual suspects. 

Of course, to do so I had to produce the whole thing myself, so it still has a few charming live errors in it. However, not for the faint-hearted, here it is on Apple Podcast: 


And here's the little badge to get to it: 
Listen on Apple Podcasts 
There's really no end to the possibilities...

  App Icon Apple Podcasts 

Even a quickcode!

Tuesday 17 November 2020


I had an email from HMRC which said that my tax code has changed and would I like to check it? Of course I would, useful to know whether it had gone up or down for example. 

I jumped across to the HMRC Personal Tax website and was greeted with a new message. Instead of using the Personal Tax Gateway, which I'd spent hours taming, I was now asked to use another system called Verify. 

Hmm. Oh well, here goes. I had to enrol in the new system to prove who I was. 

It meant answering various questions on a Post Office website and then photographing an on-screen quick code. Then I had to 'scan' my passport. Both the paper ID page and then the electronic chip inside it - which required me to use NFC - near field communication. For that, I had to pass my iPhone over the front of the passport so that it could pick up the aerial inside the passport to transfer the data. That took me about three attempts.

Then, I was asked to take a selfie. It was like a photobooth though. The actual selfie took about 2 seconds after the button was pressed. So I had to take it again. 

The App then reassuringly informed me that I had uploaded (0) identity documents. I was on an adjacent iMac and so I could cross-check there and the actual documents had been uploaded, so I guess the App was only joking - like the prankster selfie thing.

Another aspect of the design was that the buttons to press when handling the iPhone for scanning and so on were placed in difficult positions on the screen to (a) see the image to be photographed and (b) to take the photo.

It's a bit of a bonkers design really. I decided to see what others thought of it, and I was alarmed to see that most people seem to be struggling to make it work - and some of them, like carers were more in need than I was to see my tax coding.

Monday 16 November 2020

Olympus Zuiko Lenses on modern DSLRs (revisited)

I've spent the last year or so taking most of my photographs on an iPhone. 

It has been an interesting experiment and includes my holiday time in Florida, Sardinia and Iceland. 

The latest cameraphones are pretty good for blog-sized photos and the magnification isn't too bad either.

It is a trade-off between portability (iPhone) and heft (DSLR). I used to use a Trip 35 film camera and that was always reliable for most travel photography, so I guess I'm used to having to deal with the capabilities of the fixed focal lengths. 

The iPhone is wildly more flexible than the old Trip. The iPhone zoom goes from 0.5x to 10x, almost steplessly. I was inside a National Trust property recently and the iPhone could capture rooms better than my wide angle DSLR lens! 

But there's still some things I prefer about a proper camera. I still prefer to look through a viewfinder and when I'm taking any kind of 'show' pictures the DSLR is still usually better and I can manipulate the blurriness/bokeh of the picture instead of cheating afterwards(!)

Some years ago I posted a blog about using old SLR lenses with DSLRs and at the time I was using the lenses with a Canon 5D. The camera was massive and dwarfed the lenses. It worked pretty well, but I've updated recently and am now trying with a $25 Z adapter for Zuiko lenses on a full frame. 

This DSLR camera size is much more in keeping with the lenses, although some of those metal-barreled compact lenses are surprisingly heavy. So far it is interesting because with the Zuikos it is all about the manual settings. 

There's the handy aperture control on the lens (manual) and then the camera-based manual shutter speed and/or ASA settings to contend with. I know I can probably use a computerised zoom to a similar effect, but there's something interesting about working with prime lenses and especially with small primes like the one in the picture. 55mm and f1.2. Crazy. I don't know how much Nikon would sell something electronic for, but I'd guess here would be no change from £1,000. 

I progressively bought the fun lenses on eBay. I think I'm at eleven or more primes now and counting as well as three 35mm bodies by now (hint, the camera kits are often better bids than the individual lenses!) 

The reason I originally went for the Zuikos was that they were originally good lenses, suited for 35mm and nearly all of them were designed to be very compact and to fit a few in a jacket pocket. 

Check out the glass in the 50mm or 100mm and you'll see what I mean. I'll be experimenting some more over then next few days. Using the iPhone, I once more became used to jpeg editing, which isn't as clever as RAW for retaining detail in photos, but has still moved a long way since ye olden days. The jpegs are also consideably smaller. I notice a RAW nowadays can be around 40Mb for a single picture. Decisions, decisions! _DSC0119.jpg

Saturday 14 November 2020


Everyone speculates what is in the box, but like all good redirection, no one has asked about the backpack. And anyway, nowadays it doesn't take long to copy everything to the cloud or a memory stick. Even one on a keyring. Meanwhile the Hollow Men and Women go about their tasks while the floral dance continues. The new Downing Street press secretary Allegra Stratton is married to James Forsyth, the political editor of the Spectator. He works alongside the commissioning editor Mary Wakefield who happens to be married to Dominic Cummings.

Friday 13 November 2020

The Cult of Clowns game is over

It looks like both the clowns and their respective circuses are reaching their endgame positions. In the White House everyone is making plans to quietly slip away. Melania has already mentally redecorated a couple of the alternative Trump buildings and ordered the removals vans. Scaramucci is planning his blockbuster book. A couple of the die-hard dinosaurs are wondering how they ever got into their current situations attepting to defend the indefensible. The legal profession is ready to make some serious money.
Over here, in Britian, people are escaping from the cult of Boris before it crashes to the floor. Lee Cain got out, partially destroyed by his nemesis. Now Cummings leaves, wanting to watch while the girlfriend of the Prime Minister sets policy.
A few of the slippery, leakey ones, like Gove, are lining up other people to blame and to wriggle their way upward. Even the Government's own typeface for Brexit has gone decidedly wobbly.
Blame the public. Allegra Stratton will no doubt have some spin to impart, but it'll be a tough haul unless she can ditch the Prime Minister as well. Watch for the oofle dust,
And then watch Matt Hancock on Newnight attrempting to talk his way out of a very bad day for the COVID numbers. Now he is talking about flying in vaccine to avoid border delays. But he does seem to live in a world of his own.
As we used to say in systems design 'Then a Miracle occurs'
Meanwhile, my clock, installed in September, is still ticking down.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Orange Crush

I suppose that Trump's departure will give Mainstream Media less to report upon, although perhaps the upcoming legal cases could provide an ongoing source of entertainment?

It is rumoured that Melania Trump has said Donny should give himself up accede gracefully at this point. 

I can see the moves. 
  • concede 
  • resign 
  • appoint Pence as caretaker 
  • get Pence to issue blanket immunity for all the Trumpsters from all forms of prosecution 

Or maybe there will be another way? 

I'm reminded of the Comic Strip where Robbie Coltrane playing Charles Bronson as Ken Livingstone defends the old County Hall from being stormed by the military.
Even Amazon's book suggestions are illustrative of the changing fortunes of the orange golfer. 

Let's see: Rage, Disloyal, Compromised, Hoax, Donald Trump vs The United States, After Trump - Reconstructing the Presidency.
I thought I'd take a second look: Where Law Ends, The Useful Idiot, The American Crisis, What Were We Thinking, Unmaking the Presidency, Traitor.
Hmm, it seems pretty universal.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

back once again for the renegade master

So much for Big Data. If the poll of polls by the American pollsters can't even be close, then what's the likelihood that Big Data really works? Look at the election day chart - an 8 point lead on the part of the well-heeled pollsters.
I expect it is useful for managing the law of big numbers, which is another money-making scheme in its own right. It's little better than using the conversion rates when looking at advertising where the median CVR = 2.35%, top-quartile CVR = 5.31%. and top decile CVR = 11.45%. 

But that's the secret of Trumpian logic. Go Big, Go Loud, Get a good backdrop, Say what they want to hear and throw money at the problem. It seems to be working.